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  • iaindryden1

Holey boats

He looked so bright, alive, uncomplicated, but then so do some of my amazing friends. He had just admitted to what is considered a faux-pas, but to me it was nothing of the sort. I said, “See it as a badge of honour!”

He was visibly taken aback by my unexpected response. That’s the problem. We are each conditioned to fit the ‘norm’, but what is normality? My mind filled with those dear friends, outstanding individuals, each a leader in their own right, each admired widely, even internationally. Yet each has their own problems. “It shows you are human,” I laughed.

By now we’d been talking a while and his smile had broadened from bemusement to interest. That smile spoke of a man well balanced. What does balanced mean? Am I? Inside my head there lives a broken infant, a wild child, a teenager grappling with confusion, a young man lost in an ever changing world and each wants to dominate the other. To cover this inner conflict, we each have a facade the world ‘clocks’, and its hue and texture depends on our upbringing, by our clan, our environment. My remarkable friends are each solid as steel, but some have told me they sometimes crumble to bits and find it almost impossible to return to the apparent sanity others admire. Why do some of us not crumble? In my case, devastating emotional chaos at home forced my mother to divorce my cruel father and move to cheap accommodation isolated deep in the Kenyan bush. An undeniably tough shift for my highly educated, sophisticated socialite city loving mother, but perfect for crazy-boy me for we lived alongside a remarkable Kenyan tribe who gave me the stability and inner strength which still holds me up.

The charming young man had told me he’d had a blip, needed company to help him through this weird pandemic which has so devastated the world we once knew. This is happening to tens of thousands across each country. We are social animals, it’s how we developed our amazing brains. That was why I’d said, it’s a badge of honour - for it shows we’re being human, not rational automatons. The young need the company of others to grow into characters which fit their environment, without that, and it’s been a year now, they are at sea. All those little characters inside start fighting for dominance, not knowing which traits to encourage, which to wilt, things go bonkers inside. No wonder experts consider that we will soon face a global psychological mess.

Each one of us is a boat afloat upon uncertain seas and we are being shot at so our hulls have holes in them. Tossed by waves we’ve never encountered before, no wonder some of us feel we are sinking. One in four young people are said to have this sensation. A high number of the elderly are also crumbling, for they miss their children, their friends, their support systems and feel their lives are rapidly terminating in a dismal desert.

This turbulence happens in our minds whilst our brains get on with living. The way out of the mind and into the brain is through our senses. The easiest of these to slip into is sound, for it is one of the first sensations we develop and arguably the last that we hold on to as we pass away. Gently listen to the world outside your head - water rushing through pipes, the traffic, the birds, rain on the windows, wind rattling a door; then hear your own minute body-sounds and relish being alive. Smile at yourself, this is where it starts, the route to contentment, to self-acceptance. To contentment.

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